As the Critérium du Dauphiné heads into more hilly and then mountainous country, Jumbo-Visma find themselves without a rider in the top 10 following the stage 4 time trial between Firminy and Roche La Molière, but with leaders Steven Kruijswijk and Sepp Kuss by no means out of the contention for overall victory.
Kruijswijk, who now sits in 13th place, 40 seconds down on race leader Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), said he was expecting “a little bit more” from himself in the 16.4km test.
“I couldn’t really find a good rhythm in the second half of the TT and I think I gave away too much time,” he said at the finish. Like many others, he’d found it a difficult time trial to pace well.
“You just had to push as hard as you could on the uphill parts and try to recover a little bit on the downhills, so it was more about feeling than trying to ride to numbers. You can have some numbers in your head but it never comes out the way you want. I don’t really ride on my power meter in the TTs,” he explained.
The Dutch climber said he expected the Dauphiné to run to form over its final weekend and for the GC standings to change considerably during two very challenging mountain stages.
“They’re going to be tough. Maybe the TT has set a little bit of a GC hierarchy now, but I think the two stages this weekend are perhaps going to turn the overall upside down again.”
The Dutch team’s co-leader Sepp Kuss, one of the purest of pure climbers, has been devoting considerable time to his time trial bike and described himself as “pretty happy” with his TT ride, which put him 1:18 back on GC. “It was a hard test, but I think little by little I’m getting stronger in them.
“It was a good course, it linked together well, although it felt quite different on the bike to when we drove it in the car. I don’t know how our team fared compared to the others, but the race will change a lot in the next few days. We’ll have to see where we are tonight and come up with a plan.”
The team’s best performer was Jonas Vingegaard, who’s been struggling with an Achilles problem in recent weeks, but felt that his seventh place showed that good form is returning.
“I know my shape is not the best, so I’m happy with that performance. This year I’ve been doing quite good time trials until now,” said the Dane.
“After Liège I got a small setback with my Achilles – just some inflammation, not a big problem. So I had to take an extra week off. I’m still feeling it here, but I’m sure that for the Tour I’m going to be in really good shape.”
His role now will be one of helper for Kruijswijk and Kuss. “They’re in very good shape at the moment, so I’ll be there to help them, at the weekend especially.”
Vingegaard added that following the Dauphiné, Jumbo’s Tour riders will join leader Primož Roglič at a training camp in Tignes.
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